Recording of clinical information in a Scotland-wide drug deaths study

A. Baldacchino, I. Crome, D. Zador, S. McGarrol, A. Taylor, S.J. Hutchinson, T. Fahey, M. Hickman, B. Kidd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to analyse the nature and extent of data extracted from case files of deceased individuals in contact with services 6 months prior to drug deaths in Scotland during 2003. A cross-sectional descriptive analysis of 317 case notes of 237 individuals who had drug-related deaths was undertaken, using a data linkage process. All contacts made with services in the 6 months prior to death were identified. Information on clinical and social circumstances obtained from social care, specialist drug treatment, mental health, non-statutory services, the Scottish Prison Service and Criminal Records Office was collated. More than 70% (n = 237) were seen 6 months prior to their drug death. Sociodemographic details were reported much more frequently than medical problems, for example, ethnicity (49%), living accommodation (66%), education and income (52%) and dependent children (73%). Medical and psychiatric history was recorded in only 12%, blood-borne viral status in 17% and life events in 26%. This paucity of information was a feature of treatment plans and progress recorded. The 237 drug deaths were not a population unknown to services. Highly relevant data were missing. Improved training to promote in-depth recording and effective monitoring may result in better understanding and reduction of drug deaths.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1298
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number9
Early online date7 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • assessment
  • clinical governance
  • data linkage
  • drug deaths


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